The oldest existing "books" of Tarot Cards are those
from 1840-1842. Many theories exist about the origins of the Tarot.
During different periods of history, occult studies were either
freely available to all or guarded as a secret, depending upon the
prevailing authorities or the attitude of the existing culture towards
occult knowledge. One of these "books" was supposedly
based on the legendary "Book of Thoth," derived from the
mystery schools of Egypt. Gypsies are said to have carried the cards
to Europe. "Gypsy" is considered a corrupt form of "Egyptian."
Considered by the church to be "the devil's picture book,"
the cards were quickly condemned by the Catholic Church as heretical.
Even to possess them was a dangerous act. Though we can only speculate
on their origins, the Tarot images are inextricably linked to ancient
beliefs, mythologies and religious systems, such as the Hebrew Cabala.
Others, notably Pythagoras, believed that letters and numbers are
in themselves divine beings possessing extraordinary powers.